Friday, May 4, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 168: Open Heart Perjury PREVIEW!

The clock is ticking for the X-men and X-Force. X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided is about to enter the final countdown to the culmination of all the divisions, agendas, secrets, and subversion. What began in X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide will reach a definitive end when all is said and done. When that moment arrives, this fanfiction series will be in a bold new place. Charles Xavier, Cyclops, Wolverine, President Kelly, General Grimshaw, Magneto, and every other character who has played a part in this event will see their efforts pay off and/or falter.

These are the moments in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series that get me extra excited. Every volume of this fanfiction series, going back to X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution, begins with a major culmination in mind. I never start a new volume without a good idea of where the big moments will be for the X-men, their enemies, and the world as a whole. I make it a point to build towards those moments, whether it’s with dramatic arcs like Sinister Intent or even some more light-hearted arcs like Impossible Odds. Ideally, they all help contribute to the moment I’m trying to build.

Building such a moment in X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided has been extra difficult, especially at a time when plenty of X-men fans have been burned out on superhero civil wars and schisms between characters like Cyclops and Wolverine. While I can’t always plan around what happens in the X-men comics, I try to make sure this fanfiction series does something to set itself apart. In this case, it means establishing the schism between Cyclops and Charles Xavier.

From the very beginning of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, this has been the driving force behind these tense times for this fanfiction series. On one side, we have Charles Xavier, who believes in working with the likes of General Grimshaw and President Kelly to promote a more secure peace between mutants and humans. On the other side, we have Cyclops, who believes that working within a system that has already proven itself to be corrupt with programs like Weapon X will only result in disaster. At one point, Xavier’s side seem vindicated when they took down Sebastian Shaw in the Drug War arc. Then, Cyclops’ side got some vindication after the destruction wrought by White Cell in Crimes Against Inhumanity.

So far, it’s hard to say which side is right and which is wrong. The impact of recent events has cast doubt on both sides and with the prospect of Magneto returning for the first time since the end of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear, nobody has the luxury of being wrong again. Something has to give. Either X-Force has to join up with Charles Xavier’s X-men or the X-men have to resort to Cyclops’ less-than-legal tactics. It’s a tough situation for both sides, but one that’s about to become more urgent.

I’ve already mapped out the last major arc of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. Parts of the foundation were already laid in the events of X-men Supreme Issue 167: Uncivil Disobedience. The true scope and scale of with the X-men and X-Force face is about to become clearer as Magneto hatches a plan that has been brewing behind the scenes for quite some time. I’m treating the next issue as a prelude of sorts, one that will prepare the X-men and X-Force for some very hard decisions. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that should offer some hints at the hard decisions that lie ahead.

“Errrrrr! So that’s how you wanna play it?” snarled the feral mutant.

“You were asking for it, Logan! I can do much worse if you keep testing me!” said Wanda menacingly.

“Bring it on, Maximoff!” snarled Logan.

“Why don’t you sober up, Logan?” quipped Scott.

Before the hostility could get any worse, Scott adjusted his visor and fired a stun-level blast at Logan. It struck him right in the chest, knocking him back against the refrigerator. Kurt got in front of Wanda so he couldn’t come back at her if he tried. It left the former living weapon sore as well as angered.

“Hnn…you’ll beat yourself up after shooting Warren, but you won’t flinch a muscle when you shoot me?” he snarled.

“Wanda was right. You were asking for it,” said Scott strongly, “We get it. You think Magneto is crazy. I admit I’m skeptical as well when she says something is wrong with Magneto.”

“You mean aside from a long list of issues?” grumbled Logan as he pulled himself up.

“We can debate that another time, but for the moment…I believe Wanda.”

“So do I,” said Kurt strongly, making it clear that he wasn’t going to let Logan attack her.

“As disconcerting it may be, she may actually be our best ally. Keep in mind we have precious few,” Emma pointed out.

“You’re out-voted here, Logan. So why don’t you give it a rest and listen?” said Domino, “We won’t do ourselves any favors by fighting each other.”

“Speak for yourself,” grumbled the feral mutant.

Logan kept muttering curses under his breath as he rose up from Scott’s blast. The rest of X-Force turned back towards Wanda. On some levels, Logan had a point. They were relying an awful lot on Magneto’s daughter. They were in a vulnerable position and their only hope of confronting this crisis was through her.

“Let’s skip the part where we speculate why Magneto helped create Asteroid M. Right now, I’m more curious about why the Brotherhood would send you this package and just leave without a trace,” said Scott.

“Well after what happened the last time they paid a visit, I’d expect them to be more reluctant,” said Emma.

“That’s never stopped them before,” said Wanda as she looked distantly into the snow globe, “They could have easily knocked me out, drugged me, or just shoved me into one of Blink’s portals. But they didn’t. That says to me that Pietro wasn’t the one that sent me this package.”

“No surprise there,” shrugged Kurt, “Pietro can never resist making a scene.”

“Then that probably means Magneto sent it,” Scott surmised, “The question is why.”

“I already know why,” said Wanda, “He’s expecting me to understand that Asteroid M means this world is about to fail in a significant way. He wants me to rejoin him. Moreover, he wants me to come of my own volition.”

“And are you?” asked Kurt in a worried tone.

Wanda paused for a moment. She turned away from the snow globe and back towards X-Force. She didn’t choose to be stuck in Nova Roma with X-Force. However, she had chosen to stay and doing so had been quite an experience. That experience greatly complicated this seemingly simple decision.

“If this came to me a few days after the Genosha exodus, I wouldn’t have hesitated. Now I’m not so sure,” said Wanda, “Aside from Logan’s juvenile personality, I’ve learned a lot from X-Force. I’ve seen you do things that make me wonder what I should do given my position.”

“Does that mean we get to say you’re welcome?” said Domino.

“Don’t get ahead of yourselves,” said Wanda, rolling her eyes, “You may not like it, but I still care about my father. I still care about the Brotherhood and what we once stood for. I may have changed my stance on a number of issues, but I won’t change my stance on the future of our kind. That’s exactly why I can’t just go to my father. Something just feels…wrong.”

“I believe you. I also believe that you can’t ignore this,” said Scott.

“I know I can’t. But what am I supposed to do? You said it yourself. X-Force is decimated. The X-men can’t be trusted. If I turn out to be right, then it doesn’t matter what we do. We’re not in a position to stop it.”

Wanda set down the snow globe and hugged her shoulders. Kurt offered to console her. Scott, Emma, Domino, and Logan shared in her frustration with little hope of such consolation. Asteroid M was Magneto’s ultimate stand. On the surface it seemed like a viable if not excessive solution.

A heavy silence fell over the room. It was a given that Magneto controlling a massive space station would cause a major panic once word got out. For that reason, the X-men and the authorities weren’t going to let it stand. Such a move could make an extreme situation much worse. Scott, who was still reeling from the scars left by Romulus, understood this more than anyone. X-Force had to do something about it.

“In this instance I don’t believe you, Wanda. We are in a position to stop this,” said Scott in a stronger tone.

“We are?” questioned Logan, “You sure you ain’t been drinking again, Cyke?”

“Near as I can tell, he’s sober,” said Emma dryly, “Although I can’t help but be dubious.”

“I know my credibility has taken a hit lately. I don’t blame you for doubting me, but we can’t doubt our mission. Magneto is making a move. We can expect the X-men and the MSA to make a move of their own. If White Cell was any indication, we can expect that move to be mired in complications. We can’t afford that this time. We need to be in a position to deal with them and Magneto.”

“Why don’t we do some Korean algebra while we’re at it?” scoffed Domino, “Seriously, Scott. Are you sure you’re not still drunk?”

“I’m not drunk, damn it! And like the rest of you, I’m not going to stand by while our already vulnerable world is threatened,” said the X-Force leader, now sounding stronger than he had since the White Cell affair.

“I agree vith you, mein friend. No one here intends to ignore zhis, but ve can’t do anything meaningful vithout a plan,” Kurt pointed out.

“I know that, Kurt. Which is why I have a plan,” said Scott.

“Is it a plan like the one we had for White Cell?” said Logan dryly, “Because you handled that so well.”

“Since I’ve learned some harsh lessons from that mission, I’ll skip the part where I shoot you with another optic blast, Logan. But unless anyone has a plan of their own, we need to act soon. Neither Magneto nor the X-men are going to give us much time.”

Logan, Kurt, Emma, and Domino studied their leader. Scott sounded a lot more like the competent tactician they placed so much trust in when they joined X-Force. Yet there was still an unmistakable doubt in his tone. It left them plenty of reasons to worry, but since no one had a plan of their own they decided to hear him out.

“Since no one is asking if I’m drunk anymore, the rest falls on you, Wanda,” said Scott, “You helped us in a tough situation against White Cell. Now let us help you in a tough situation with your father.”

“I’m not going to refuse help in this matter,” she told him, “However, I’m worried about what this help will entail.”

“Give me a chance to put those worries at ease,” he urged her, “When we’re done, help me make a few calls. For this plan to work, we’ll have to put ourselves right in the line of fire. But unlike the White Cell mission, we will maintain control.”

“How can you be so sure this time?” said Emma skeptically.

“Because we’re not going to stay in the shadows,” Scott replied, “We’re laying everything on the line this time. There will be no room for ambiguity. That’s how we’ll maintain control. And that control will be our greatest edge.”

The X-Force leader never took his eyes off Wanda. Regardless of how confident the team was with him, everything fell on her shoulders. Plan or no plan, she was responsible for whatever damage her father incurred. Turning towards Kurt and then back towards Scott, she made a fateful decision.

“Okay Cyclops,” said Wanda, now sharing his strength, “What’s the plan and what do you need from me?”

For the X-men fans still burned out on schisms and superhero civil wars from the comics, I urge you to hang in there. I intend for there to be a major payoff for X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. That payoff, though, requires me to play the long game and take a few risks. I know I’ve already taken plenty, going all the way back to how I ended things in X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. Rest assured, I wouldn’t have taken that chance if I didn’t think the payoff would be worth it.

With the end of another volume of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series once again in sight, it’s more critical than ever that I continue to get feedback. These are tense times for many beloved X-men characters, some more than others. I know some fans of certain characters have been anxious. I want to hear from those fans and every other type of X-men fan, as well. Please, in the name of making the payoff of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided as big as possible, send me your feedback. Either post comments directly in the issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


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